Lisnagarvey skipper Jonny Bell says his side can win tomorrow’s (Saturday, 2.30pm) crucial Premier League tie against Banbridge at Havelock Park, if they play to their potential.
Garvey and Banbridge have easily been the two best sides in Ulster Hockey over recent seasons, with the two exchanging the Premier League title over the past two seasons.
Garvey are currently 14 points behind their main title rivals, but with three games in hand, assuming they win those matches, should Garvey win tomorrow they will effectively be just two points behind Banbridge.
Speaking ahead of the match, skipper Jonny Bell said: “Every time we play Banbridge we know it will be a tight game, but it is a game we are capable of winning.
“We had a good result against them at Havelock Park before Christmas, which we were unlucky not to win.
“If we play anywhere near our potential we can win,” he added.
Garvey and Bann have fought out two close encounters already this season, with Banbridge narrowly winning 4-3 at Comber Road in the season opener, whilst Garvey took a 4-4 draw in the IHL at Havelock Park, and tomorrow’s clash is set to be another classic.
In 21 games since the start of the season proper, Banbridge have won 20 games and drawn one in all competitions.
The only team to deny them victory? Yes. Garvey.
Despite their Irish Senior Cup disappointment against Cork CoI last weekend, Bell is confident his side can bounce back.
“We had a very disappointing result against Cork, especially when you look back over the game with the number of chances we had and the soft goals we conceded.
“It is good to have a big game straight away to try to bounce back,” Bell added.
“The Garvey and Banbridge teams are quite evenly matched on paper. Over the years the results seem to have gone in favour of the home team, with the exception of the match at Comber Road earlier in the season when they caught us cold.
“But we have shown we are more than capable of getting a result, if we take our chances.
“They have had a big break over Christmas, which will hopefully be to our advantage.”
With the sides so evenly matched, at this level, it is about taking chances when the opportunity comes your way.
“Very much so,” Bell agreed. “Between the two 25’s we’ve been playing some fantastic hockey, but hockey is won and lost in both circles. If we can improve in certain critical areas we can turn around a result.”
Meanwhile, Bell and Garvey teammate James Lorimer will travel to South Africa next week as part of the Ireland Training Camp as they fine tune preparation for World League 2 in San Diego which starts on February 28.
In South Africa they will play six tests against South Africa, Netherlands and Belgium.
“We are off next Wednesday, it should be good,” Bell said.
“We have two games against Belguim, two against South Africa and two against Holland. It will be extremely challenging.
“Unfortunately there won’t be much sightseeing, it will just be airport and hockey pitch, but it will be nice to get away and play in a different climate.”